DayBreaks for 3/26/18 – The Proclamation

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DayBreaks for 3/26/18: The Proclamation

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2008:

SARPOURENX, France – A mayor in southwest France has threatened residents of his village of Sarpourenx with severe punishment if they die because there’s no room in the cemetery. Mayor Gerard Lalanne posted an ordinance in the council offices advising the village’s 260 residents that “all persons not having a plot in the cemetery and wishing to be buried in Sarpourenx are forbidden from dying in the parish.” It added, “Offenders will be severely punished,” Homes Worldwide said. The 70-year-old mayor, who is hoping to be re-elected in local elections, told journalists, “It may be a laughing matter for some, but not for me.”  

Easter is coming but will soon be over and I shall miss it once it’s gone.  Of course, there’s no reason we can’t revel in the joyful proclamation “He is not here, he is risen!” all year long – and indeed, we should.  It is at the very heart of the Christian message, for if Christ is not risen from the dead, we’d have no greater hope or joy than any other religion whose founder lies moldering in the grave. 

I would imagine that mayor Lalanne issued his proclamation rather tongue-in-cheek.  I just don’t think that one can legislate the prevention of death.  Try as one might, you will never be able to keep cemeteries from filling up.  The human march toward death is certain and inexorable.  The bell tolls for we. 

Jesus would take a different approach than Mayor Lalanne.  Jesus is a realist – we will all die, and after that face judgment.  But rather than filling up cemeteries, Jesus is all about emptying them out through the resurrection.  And we need never fear another thing: there is no message such as “There’s no room at the inn,” or “Heaven is full…no vacancy.”  If Easter is about anything, it is about room – room at the foot of the cross, room in an empty tomb, room in cemeteries where the dead are raised and room in heaven for “whosoever will” that desires to come home to the Father. 

PRAYER: Lord, we believe that the day will come when all who are in the grave will hear your voice and every grave will open and surrender to You.  May we never lose hope, may we invite all we know to come home!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

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DayBreaks for 3/23/18 – The Beginning of Glory

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DayBreaks for 3/23/18: The Beginning of Glory

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2008:

What would you have given to be the only human being to witness Christ’s first breath as he came back to life?  God, for whatever reason, didn’t give that privilege to any mortal.  I’m not sure why, but my guess is that we couldn’t have borne the sight or the glory of that moment in time.  It appeared for all intents and purposes that the cause of Christ had come to an end.  His disciples certainly thought so.  After all, he was brutally slain, wrapped, put in a sealed tomb.  Over, done, kaput, fini. 

It seems hard to speak of the cross as an instrument of glory.  That’s because we think of glory as something shining, beautiful, amazing.  Methinks that God also finds obedience to be glorious, and if that is indeed the case, the cross of Christ was truly and specially glorious. 

But the glory that most of us associate with Easter is the glory of the resurrection.  We hope to share in that resurrection glory, even as we hope to avoid the glory of the cross.  We look forward to the resurrection, but not to taking up our cross to follow Christ in order to get there. 

We would be remiss, however, if we only see Easter as a historical artifact of the first century, or even of the Christian church.  As we gather this Sunday to sing “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” with its glorious “Alleluias!”, let us remember that Easter is more than just history: “Easter is not the celebration of a past event. The alleluia is not for what was; Easter proclaims a beginning which has already decided the remotest future. The Resurrection means that the beginning of glory has already started.” – Karl Rahner, Everyday Faith

Trillions of years from now, the Alleluia choruses filled with His praise will only have just begun.  The events of that first Easter truly did settle, once and for all, the “remotest future” – even the future that will know no time, for time will be no more.  But let’s not just wait until we are resurrected to explore and live in the glory, for the glory has already begun and it grows stronger with each act of obedience, with each song of praise, with each cup of cold water and each act of compassion.  It grows like an eternal and never ending wave rising up to the praise of the Lamb that was slain, who lives forevermore!

I know it’s not Easter yet, but it’s still true: Christ the Lord is risen!  He is risen, indeed!

PRAYER: Let our shouts rise to the heavens, Lord, may Your glory fill our hearts and the earth even as they fill Your home.  May we bring You glory, and live in the glory that You have revealed to us in Christ Jesus, our risen Lord and Savior!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 3/21/18 – Without a Doubt

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DayBreaks for 3/21/18: Without a Doubt

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

How strange are the mysteries of God!  To paraphrase: “If you want to find your life, you must lose it.”  Or, “He that is the greatest shall be the least among you.”  “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”  Certainly, perhaps the greatest understatement in the history of the universe was when God declared, My ways are not your ways, nor my thought like your thoughts.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so are my thoughts above your thoughts. 

It seems strange that in dying, death was defeated.  Christ took death in both of his arms and pulled it into his mortal body, and in doing so, defeated it.  Through the resurrection, death and its power were forever broken and we need not fear the moment of our physical death for one second longer.  This is the peace that Christ has bought us: that we have been reconciled to God the Father through Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection.  All that previously stood between us has been removed, torn down, ripped asunder like the veil in the temple. 

“He died, but he vanquished death; in himself, he put an end to what we feared; he took it upon himself, and he vanquished it; as a mighty hunter, he captured and slew the lion.  Where is death?  Seek it in Christ, for it exists no longer; but it did exist, and now it is dead.  O life, O death of death!  Be of good heart; it will die in us also.  What has taken place in our head will take place in his members; death will die in us also.  But when?  At the end of the world, at the resurrection of the dead in which we believe and concerning which we do not doubt.” – Augustine, Sermon 233

It is one thing to stand at the gravesite and hope for resurrection.  It is another, as Augustine put it, to “believe and concerning which we have no doubt.”  It is through a life of close fellowship with God that such confidence comes.  The resurrection was the first fruit of Christ’s victory – a victory that he is eager to share with each of his children!

PRAYER: Lord, it is difficult for us to believe and accept that death holds no power as we see people dying all around us.  May we, as we celebrate Christ’s victory over death, clearly understand that it is our victory, too.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 2/13/18 – The Message of the Folded Napkin

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DayBreaks for 2/13/18: The Message of the Folded Napkin

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

A DayBreaks reader sent this to me and it’s well worth passing on (I’m sorry, I don’t know who originally wrote this):

“Why did Jesus fold the linen burial cloth after His resurrection?
“The Gospel of John (20:7) tells us that the napkin, which was placed over the face of Jesus, was not just thrown aside like the grave clothes.  The Bible takes an entire verse to tell us that the napkin was neatly folded, and was placed at the head of that stony coffin:

Early Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and I don’t know where they have put him!” Peter and the other disciple ran to the tomb to see. The other disciple outran Peter and got there first. He stooped and looked in and saw the linen cloth lying there, but he didn’t go in. Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus head was folded up and lying to the side.
I have come to believe that any detail that God has chosen to include in scripture has significance if we can only see it.  So, why did John make note of the napkin that was folded neatly by the burial clothes?  Is it really significant?  Yes!
“In order to understand the significance of the folded napkin, you have to understand a little bit about Hebrew tradition of that day. The folded napkin had to do with the Master and Servant, and every Jewish boy knew this tradition. When the servant set the dinner table for the master, he made sure that it was exactly the way the master wanted it.  The table was furnished perfectly, and then the servant would wait, just out of sight, until the master had finished eating. The servant would not dare touch that table, until the master was finished. Now if the master was done eating, he would rise from the table, wipe his fingers, his mouth, and clean his beard, and would wad up that napkin and toss it onto the table. The servant would then know to clear the table. For in those days, the wadded napkin meant, “I’m done”. But if the master got up from the table, and folded his napkin, and laid it beside his plate, the servant would not dare touch the table, because the folded napkin meant, “I’m coming back!”

I also think it is significant where Jesus left the napkin.  He could have folded his napkin at the Last Supper and laid it neatly on the table.  We don’t know that he did that or not and Scripture certainly doesn’t mention it.  But Jesus leaves the folded napkin at the edge of a grave as if to tell us that he’s coming back to the place of the dead once more and that when he does, he’ll do the same thing that he’d done with Lazarus just a few chapters earlier in John. 

It’s one thing to say you’ll come back to a dinner table to eat – but another thing entirely to say you’ll come back to the place of death and bring life with you!  If your life is “dead” right now, think about the folded napkin and rejoice in the silent message it brings!

PRAYER: Almighty Lord Jesus, ruler of all things, thank you for the simple message of the folded napkin and the hope that it brings us as we live out our days on earth!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/21/17 – I Wonder About Lazarus

DayBreaks for 9/21/17: I Wonder About Lazarus

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

ABID JAN, Ivory Coast (08/26, Reuter’s): “A 2-year old girl was recovered alive three days after she was buried in a village cemetery.  Grave diggers in the area heard the young girl and immediately uncovered her grave.  Minata Lafissa was taken back to her parents in the village of Yakasse-Feyasse.  Lafissa was originally pronounced dead from a mystery illness.”

What a terrifying experience this must have been for little Minata!  One of my greatest fears (I’m claustrophobic – afraid of being closed in), is that I would be buried alive.  I can’t hardly stand to crawl underneath a car to change oil!  Can you imagine what it would be like to be sick, fall asleep, and wake up some time later in a closed, sealed coffin – buried alive!?!?!  It is the stuff of the worst horror movies and nightmares.

How do you feel about death? 

John 11.43-44: When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”  The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

There was a difference between Lazarus and Minata: unlike Minata, he was really and truly dead, it was done, over, finished.   He, like Minata, had been in the grave for days.  Only he was dead for all that time – not awake and screaming.  Then, all of a sudden, he hears an irresistible Voice – he opens his eyes and sees he is in a tomb.  Somehow (the verse isn’t real clear on how it exactly happened) his body moves forth out of the tomb (he couldn’t probably walk wrapped up as he was – it appears that he perhaps was “levitated” out of the tomb, but who knows?)  His eyes begin to see light through the wrappings around his face.  The first face he sees is probably his friend Jesus, or the faces of his sisters, Mary and Martha, as their trembling hands remove the wrappings.  They’ve all been crying, but for different reasons.  Mary and Martha are crying out of incredible joy for having their brother back.  Jesus has been crying because of the ravages of sin on mankind that brought death to his friend. 

How do you think Lazarus felt?  I wonder if he was happy to be back, or if he’d rather of stayed where he was.  (Probably a silly thing to wonder – if he was with God!)  How would I have felt?  If I’d already gone through the anxiousness of death itself, of the painful good-byes to loved ones, of drawing the last breath with a shudder – I think I wouldn’t be too keen on repeating the experience all over again.  I wonder what he saw while he was dead.  We simply aren’t told, because it really isn’t important.  I’d have liked to see him, talk with him, to have known him after this happened.

But, at the same time, if I’d been Lazarus, I would be amazed.  I would be standing before Jesus, knowing that some incredible power, His incredible power, had made me alive again after I’d been dead.  Here’s the amazing thing: I have been where Lazarus was!  If you’re a believer in Christ, you’ve been there, too:  Col 2.13: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins… 

How does it feel?  I have been brought back to life by God’s amazing power.  And I am sustained by His great power.  And even though I will die physically, I will not die spiritually – I will live forever with Him.   Let me tell you in case you haven’t experienced this resurrection of the spirit – it feels great!!!!

What Jesus did for Lazarus, what He’s done for me, He can and will do for you – if you believe in Him.  He wants to raise you to a new life.  He wants to raise your friends and family to the same life, too.  When you look at your fellow-believers this weekend at church, remember – you’re looking at a person who has been raised from the dead by the power of Jesus Christ!

PRAYER: Father, thank You for life, for stirring and breathing life into our dead souls.  Help us to celebrate and rejoice in the new life You have given us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2007 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/28/17 – Why Christ HAD To Rise

DayBreaks for 4/28/17: Why Christ HAD to Rise

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

Easter is over, but Christ is still risen!  It seems that many forget in the hustle of everyday life that such an earth-shattering event really did take place.  Maybe saying it was earth-shattering is a bit strong – many alive on the face of the earth at the time never heard about it in their lifetimes – they just didn’t have that opportunity.  And being such scientifically minded moderns as we are, we find it a bit hard to believe that something that happened so long ago in the days of yore when science was, well, rather unscientific, we may be a bit skeptical about the resurrection. 

In John 20, it says (talking about the disciples after Jesus resurrection and before Jesus had appeared to them), They did not yet understand the Scriptures that Jesus had to rise from the dead.  I can hardly blame them, even though Jesus had told them numerous times, in very plain language, that he would rise from the dead on the third day. 

But this year, as I read that passage, I was struck by the simple word “had”.  It is a significant word – the writer could have said that they didn’t understand that Jesus would rise from the dead, but that’s not what he said.  John said Jesus “had” to rise from the dead.  And that got me thinking.  Why did Jesus have to rise?  Several reasons, I think:

FIRST: If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, it would mean that there was something (death) in the universe that is more powerful than God, which is impossible given the definition of God and His omnipotence.  If Jesus (God with us) could not raise himself from the dead, he couldn’t possibly have been God.  But if he could raise himself from the tomb, then surely He must be God!

SECOND: Life has, in spite of appearances, always been stronger than death.  Consider how it works with a grain of wheat: one grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, but that one grain of wheat gives life eventually to thousands of grains of wheat in subsequent generations.  Think of the great people of the past and what comes to mind?  Is it not their life, and not their death?  We speak of such people as “living on” in their deeds, words, thoughts.  And, who hasn’t seen a seed that has sprouted and grown through inches of asphalt, cement or even rock?  Why?  Because life is stronger than death, and Jesus was “the Way, the Truth, and the LIFE.”

FINALLY: I preach and teach about the cross a great deal.  I make no apologies for that.  But recently I have wondered if I’ve emphasize that too much and underemphasized the resurrection of Christ.  After all, the apostles went everywhere teaching and preaching the resurrection.  Many people were crucified during the time of Christ – but what made him unique was the resurrection!  What good would it have been if Jesus had lived a sinless life and if God had accepted Jesus’ sacrificial death for us, but Jesus hadn’t risen?  Paul is clear in Corinthians: if Christ isn’t risen, then there is and will be no resurrection for anyone.  Here’s the point: if Jesus perfect life ended with the grave, our sins could have been forgiven, but so what?  If he didn’t rise, we won’t rise.  We’d lie in the grave and become dust and remain dust – eternally.  And those are some of the key reasons Jesus had to rise from the dead.

Let me share the brilliant observation by theologian Jaroslav Pelikan: “If Christ is risen from the dead, then nothing else matters; if Christ is not risen from the dead, then nothing else matters.”  You see, it all depends on Christ and his resurrection.

PRAYER: I thank You, Father, for the little word “had” – that Jesus “had” to rise from the dead.  Thank You that He did rise, and that because he has risen, nothing else in this universe really matters.  The reality of His resurrection is the dominant fact of all the universe.  May we live as if we truly believe He is risen from the dead!.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/16/17 – Easter Sunday

DayBreaks for 4/16/17: Easter Sunday

From the Holy Week devotional guide from our church:

“Running. We run for a lot of reasons…for health and exercise, for sport and leisure, for a race or competition of some kind…but sometimes we run because we’re compelled to do so. Perhaps a dog in the neighborhood starts chasing you, suddenly running isn’t so much a choice, but an instinct. Or maybe you’re a parent and you’ve experienced the feeling of instinctively running to the aid of a hurt child. In moments like those you don’t stop and consider, ‘Should I run or walk?’ You simply run. You run out of concern, you run out of fear, or perhaps more descriptively, you run out of desperation.

“This was the kind of running Mary Magdalene and the disciples were doing on that glorious Sunday morning; although, at first it wasn’t glorious to them. There was confusion. Can you imagine the questions going through their heads as they ran? ‘Did they take his body? Is this some sort of cruel trick? Could it be that he actually resurrected from the dead?’

“Spiritually speaking, we run to a lot of things, for a lot of reasons. We run to  human relationships to give us the love and security that we can ultimately only get from Christ. We run to entertainment and electronic devices to give us the rest and escape that only Christ can give as our true rest and refuge. We run to money and our job performance to give us a reputation and comfort that will never be enough.

“We’re all runners. But are we running to Jesus, the very one for whom we were created…the very one by whom we are saved?

“Most often we won’t run to Him until we recognize our ongoing desperate need for Him. We run out of desperation to Him as we recognize that He doesn’t just give truthful answers, He is truth. We run out of desperation to Him as we realize that He doesn’t just point the way, He is the Way. We run out of desperation to Him as we realize that He doesn’t just give life, He is life (Jn. 14:6)

“He is life because He defeated death. Our wildest dreams have indeed come true! Run to Him!” – Jeff Norris, director of young adults and families, Perimeter church

PRAYER: Jesus, you are the way, the truth and the life. Give me strength to run to You and to forsake the other things I run to instead of you; the things that will never love me like you do. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.